Seven Tips for Fabulous Freestanding Applique


Make your applique stand on its own with these tips!

You have probably seen the Cookies for Santa project using Bonnie’s adorable Christmas Cookies set. This is my most favorite set and the first time that I turned a regular applique into a freestanding applique. Here are a few things that will make your first time a success, too!

Use the Right Stabilizer

Picture of outline stitch in machine embroidery hoop.

A clear stabilizer ensures that there is no white showing around the edges. I prefer to use a heat-away film in the hoop as it tears cleanly away. You can use a water-soluble stabilizer as well (both clear and fabric-type), just make sure you cut away as much as possible when finished and then wet the edges to dissolve the rest.

I have also found that applying stabilizer scraps around the tack-down stitching line adds additional stability and helps to prevent the satin stitches from totally perforating hooped stabilizer.

Use Contrasting Thread

Picture showing use of a contrasting thread on plush fabrics when doing machine applique.

Just as with tacking down GlitterFlex, using a contrasting thread when tacking down freestanding applique fabrics makes it a lot easier to see where to trim. The edge will be covered by satin stitches so it will not be seen in the end. Leftover colored bobbin thread is also good for this.

Trim Close to Stitching

Picture demonstrating to trim very close to outline when completing machine applique

It is important to trim as close to the tack-down lines as possible. If not, edges of the fabric will show through the satin stitching. Applique scissors help me get close to stitching lines when trimming.

Add a Back

Picture showing back of machine applique with fabric added for professional finish

Adding a backing covers the back of the embroidery and gives freestanding applique a professional finish. Tape the backing fabric on the back of the hoop, run the tack-down stitch again to secure it, and trim before running the final satin stitches.

Satin Stitch Using the Same Color of Bobbin Thread

When stitching the final satin stitching, make sure that you use the same color of thread in the bobbin as that with which you are embroidering. That way the back looks just as good as the front!


Picture showing button and ribbon embellishments to machine appliuqe

You can use freestanding applique for gift tags and ornaments. Have fun while embellishing with buttons, beads, and hangers.

Touch Up if Necessary

Picture showing using a fabric marker to touch up edges on machine applique

Sometimes, the fabric edge still shows through the satin stitches. If so, just color with a fabric marker or permanent marker.

Debbie Henry
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

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  • Bonnie J Welsh - November 01, 2022

    Virginia—VIPs get 20% discounts every day on GlitterFlex. You can find out more about our VIP program here: Normally there’s a sale around BFCM too.

  • Virginia Hannig - November 01, 2022

    Do you have any deals on glitter flex and if not when

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